Because I am a sucker for insight into lifestyles of the rich and famous, and the schadenfreude that reading about that brings, I just took advantage of a $2 subscription to Town & Country magazine. Dazzled, I tell you, I was dazzled by all of the jewels shown “price upon request” and the name-dropping of royals throughout.

I was less dazzled, I must confess, at the egregious misspelling of the Bois de Boulogne in Paris as “Bologne.” That’s a firing offense for any publication (in my exacting view of the world), but particularly in one where all things Paris are considered the ne plus ultra.

Also concerning – though more on an annoyance level – was the script used to promote this perfume from Sisley:

Well? You tell me what that first letter is. Oh, I see, it’s in the hashtag. But wait, is that an i or a lowercase L? And then I just decided,  having seen Sisley products in French department stores, that in the immortal words of my mother, if you have to ask, you can’t afford it. (And perhaps recognizing the impenetrability of this script, Sisley added a more legible font to its promotion of this perfume on its website.)

Lax blogging. Trying to get back in the saddle again. So:

A much-belated update on the family job front. My dear husband is now a partner of Seed IP Law Group, in Seattle. BUT WE DIDN’T MOVE THERE! How is that possible, you ask? Technology, my friends. Marc is connected to the office and spends a week there a month, but works 75% of the time out of our home office. He’s loving it and we’re loving reconnecting with friends and family and former colleagues in the city where we spent over 15 years of our lives together.

Why am I boring you with this? Because trademarks and stuff, of course! Pop culture!

Pop culture first, of course. Food shopping at New Seasons, the gourmet supermarket on Mercer Island that had the nerve to open only after we moved away:

Yep, they’re pretty insistent about the local provenance of their goods. Kinda made me think of this. It’s local.

Next, there’s the witty, pop-culture-referential advertising for the Puget Sound Trip Planner App:

Bad photo. It says, at the bottom, “Wherever you go, there we are.” I cannot resist a Buckaroo Banzai reference.

Finally, not even in Seattle but just because, here I manage to hit two of my main sweet spots, Francophilia and grammar/spelling errors:

WTF, people, fromage is masculine. So just because you want to be even cutesier, even Frenchier, that doesn’t mean that you make petit into petite. THAT’S NOT HOW IT WORKS! (This is a line we’re going to be repeating a lot these days, I fear.)

Anyway, happy New Year from the blog! This year in Barcelona, for all you INTA folks!

The stairwell of the apartment we rented in Paris held this trademark gem:

13510459_10209423753172022_1902973996_n

You would think this would be a shining example of a brand that’s absolutely incapable of crossing the Atlantic thanks to its English meaning. (I’m not sure if its significance is the same to British English speakers; if it is, the poor mark shouldn’t even be able to cross the Channel!) However, the mark has been registered here in the US, and Puky products are apparently available for sale here in the US. I just can’t imagine how successful a product bearing that name could be. Then again, Acne Jeans are so hot these days …

 

 

 

 

 

Bellapierre

 

This item was in my daughter’s Ipsy bag this month. Where do I begin?

Okay, we have “bella,” which is Italian for beautiful, mashed together with “pierre,” which is French for stone. Except “bella” bears an extraneous and incomprehensible accent mark; the combination sort of means “beautiful stone” (and it’s sheer coincidence that I photographed it on my granite countertop). I know I am meant to ignorantly assume that the accent mark imparts a certain quelle-heure-est-il cachet to the product but alas, I cannot. Rather, I am stuck repeating two of my constant refrains when it comes to trademarks: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means” – and “I don’t understand the question and I won’t respond to it.

My daughter says the the liner is highly pigmented and is looking forward to using it and was happy to relinquish the packaging to her obsessive mother.

It’s bad enough that the Teen Spirit brand tarnishes Kurt Cobain’s memory. But this is even worse:

cute n girlie

CUTE & GIRLIE? WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK? IT’S 2015 – AM I THE ONLY ONE WHO NOTICED? If you’re old enough to use antiperspirant, you’re old enough to be totally mortified if your mom buys you “cute & girlie [sic]” antiperspirant.

And for the final injury, it should be “girly” the adjective, and not “girlie” the diminutive noun.

I can’t decide what bothers me more about this product name:

woats

Is it (a) that the mark consists merely of the product’s main ingredient, with an additional letter slapped onto it? Or (b) that said mark rhymes with “goats”? Or (c) that when you try to pronounce it your mouth contorts uncomfortably and you’re not sure anyone can understand you? [Try it. I’ll wait. “Want some Woats?” See?] Or (d) that it reminds me of the egregious and (for me, at least) hackle-raising misspelling of “whoa” as “woah”?

I’m afraid it’s (e) All of the above, which is unfortunate, since the founder of the company has some very laudable goals for giving back to the community.

 

More TJ Maxx antics:

provance

Just decide on one and stick with it. But I’ll give you a hint – it’s Provence! (Also, this chateau appears not to exist at all. Tant pis.) This wooden tray was tempting, and you know I love a good typo, but helas, this was not marked down enough.

Yes, though it’s been a month since we got back from Paris, it’s taken me time to get to my magazines. So here’s Exhibit A – a brand name I kind of like:

Hipanema

… even though my iPad keeps wanting to change it to Hip Anemia.

We took our eldest off to Kenyon College this past weekend. Alma mater of such luminaries as Paul Newman, E.L. Doctorow, Laura Hillenbrand, and last night’s Emmy Award winner Alison Janney, it’s a gorgeous campus on a hill in central Ohio – as picturesque an educational environment as you’re likely to find anywhere.

Kenyon’s address is Gambier, Ohio, but Gambier is really inside Kenyon – it’s just that tiny. And because it’s so tiny, commerce there is limited. How limited?

Peoples Bank

There’s just one bank, and it can’t even afford an apostrophe.

 

I can’t tell you how many times in my career (now over 24 years in this trademark biz!) I’ve been asked “but what if we change the spelling?” You mean from candy to “kandy”? From cheese to “cheeze”? Or this:

music skool

The answer, I’m afraid, is still no. It’s neither protectable nor distinctive. You’re fooling no one.

And that, my friends, is my rant du jour.

I’ll bet that the graphic artist who designed this logo thought it was a brilliant idea to combine the dot on the “i” and the apostrophe here. Unfortunately, my eye thinks otherwise.

Remember, your URL doesn’t contain punctuation! Maybe make it Jenni with two Ns?

This Birchbox biz has been going on for some time. So to keep things more lively, I’m only going to focus on brands that are new to me.

Let’s start September’s with a marketing doozy:


I have, in the past, raged against pointless misspellings. So the extra “n” in the recognizable name “Racine” was strike one for me. Strike two? Package copy that reads “Powerful anit-aging [sic] agent.” Strike three? The “About” page that reads “At it’s [sic] roots, Racinne, a Canadian Beauty Company.” A strikeout, with bonus points for unnecessary capitalization!

Next, Airelle:

Here we have the doctrine of foreign equivalents at work. Airelle is French for “blueberry.” When the product contains blueberry extract, airelle is merely descriptive of the goods. And in this case, at least as of my publication date, the PTO has correctly applied the doctrine to refuse registration of a foreign term that is merely descirptive of these goods. Airelle had better luck with Berrimatrix, the other mark on the package, and got that mark registered.

Here’s a mark I just love:

That’s Ruffian, if you can’t see it. Love the name, love the color.

Finally, here’s a product whose marketers appear to have given up on the naming process:

Even the Birchbox insert is stumped; they call the product “This Is a Sea Salt Spray.” It’s marketed by the Davines Group of Parma, Italy. You see the legend “More Inside” on the bottle? Well, it appears that’s the product line name, so other products in the line bear monikers of, for example, “This Is a Volume Boosting Mousse,” “This Is a Medium Hold Modeling Gel,” and the finalist in the Gertrude Stein competition, “This Is an Oil Non Oil.”

The Davines website clearly outlines their focus on sustainable beauty, which is laudable. More head-scratching than laudable, however, is the inclusion of Ayn Rand in their sidebar of “Things That Inspire.” Also head-scratching is their claim to have created the “Davines” name from the names of their children, Davide and Stefania. I can’t quite make that add up, certainly not in any way that gives poor Stefania equal time!

In any event, Daughter #2 advises me that salt spray is great for curly hair and is pleased to take this off my hands.

Thanks once again to Birchbox, I’ve got something to blog about. This month there are a couple of marks that rankle.


First, we have Mirenesse:



Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE lip pencils, and expect a cage match over this one with my daughter. However, the name troubles me because it looks like a line extension of Mirena, the intrauterine birth control device. I know they’re not related goods, and I see no likelihood of confusion whatsoever. I just know that with my fertile (heh) mind, I see Mirenesse and think of Mirena.

But this one really irks me:



That’s right, it’s “100% Pure.” Where on earth do I begin with this? Let’s start: If the product is indeed, 100% pure, whatever that means, then 100% PURE is descriptive and therefore unprotectable as a trademark. It is also therefore a lousy trademark, because you cannot prevent competitors who have products that are equally 100% pure from asserting that same fact.

And yet this raises another question, one for the false advertising attorneys among us: What does 100% pure mean? For that matter, what do “100% natural” and “100% vegan” mean? Does the latter mean I can eat this? It’s vanilla bean and coconut, after all. This company alleges that its products contain no toxins, but the lengthy list of floral, fruit, and nut extracts contained in the creams, for example, could be highly allergenic, if not toxic, to one sensitive to those ingredients. I once used a cocoa butter skin oil that contained the admittedly all-natural Brazil nut oil – and broke out in a ferocious rash, natural or not.

So enough of that. Let’s move on to the less inflammatory items. Here we have Suki:



It’s “exfoliate foaming cleanser,” and shouldn’t that be “exfoliant”? Seems that way to me.

Next, another Color Club nail polish:



Cute color, but I don’t do matte. And this makes THREE of these!

Finally, a well-established brand:



Dry shampoo (or shampooing sec, en francais) is something I tend not to bother with because I have such short hair that it takes no more than an extra minute to wash it in the shower. I guess it’d be good for overnight travel … but maybe I’ll just give it to the kids.

That’s all for this month’s haul!

When you’re speeding down I-70 to get home from skiing, your eye doesn’t always catch nuances in spelling and punctuation.

Try this one at speed:
[something unintelligible having to do with snot …] OH! They mean “snow tire headquarters” – I get it now! No, I really don’t get it, because all I can think about is that the sign says “snot.” It’s a lot easier to see “snot” at high speed than it is to see the advertiser’s name. 
I think it’s fair to say that there should be an advertising bright line rule prohibiting the use of “sno” + “t-” formations … because some of us are still twelve at heart!

Don’t know whether it’s “peek” or “peak”? Split the difference, like HP did in this email I received:

Maybe the ad writer is smarter than the person who wrote the subject line? I promise you, if you haven’t noticed this ubiquitous error before, you will now. Are there so many flatlanders around that no one knows what a mountain peak is? The fact that “sneak” and “peek” rhyme is not a reason to assume they’re spelled the same way – this is, after all, English.
My oy vey for today…

I don’t know where to begin. Sicily was a life-changing experience, thanks in large part to my dear friend Sally, who brings worlds together on a daily basis there. Still recovering from a bit of jet lag (though something about the Mediterranean sun and sea made it much easier to adjust than every before), but I thought I’d at least prime the pump for more posting with one of my favorite catches of the trip:

Despite the gaffe, Quattro Gatti in Ragusa Ibla was most accommodating with our ragtag party of about 16, and the antipasto misto and pasta con le sarde were al di la di ottimo.

I promised; now I’ll deliver. Here it is once again, Nuvo:

I’ve kind of dumbed down the drama of the bottle by photographing it on my dining room chair against my dull gray dining room wall (gotta get that repainted one of these days!) Here’s how it appears on the Nuvo website:
Nuvo Sparkling Liqueur
Definitely a more feminine look than in my photo. Still, this photo doesn’t begin to capture just how electrically pink Nuvo was when I poured it; it’s nearly neon in its intensity.
Nuvo markets itself as “a lifestyle choice for trendy individuals.” (And may I also add that it’s clumsily and incorrectly marked as “NUVO©“?) Whoever those individuals may be, the web copy also advises that drinking Nuvo is for “Celebrating Life Everyday [sic]” and that it “comes housed in a gorgeous, perfume-like bottle that adds flare [sic] and decor to any event.” Again, whatever that means.
So what does it taste like? The site says it’s made with premium French vodka, sparkling white wine, and passion fruit nectar, intended to “dazzle your taste buds and delight your palette [sic].” Dear Reader, I am sad to report that my palate was not delighted. Fizzy vodka with disinfectant is more like it. It’s also very strong, with a kick like wasabi. Lest you think that this is just my own bias, I can promise you that the four other adults who tasted it this weekend also marveled at Nuvo’s harsh and astringent character. The pink perfume flask was definitely deceiving.
A few things I don’t understand, though: The Nuvo website’s “mixology” section suggests mixing Nuvo with … wait for it … more vodka, for a new sensation. Another variation includes mixing tequila with Nuvo, which sounds just disgusting. And while I see from the website that Nuvo is targeting both the “urban lifestyle” and “Latin spice” markets, I have a hard time picturing anyone other than a woman picking up this pink bottle. Perhaps that’s why Nuvo has branched out to add Nuvo Lemon Sorbet, which they refer to as being “sleek like a yellow Lamborghini.” Sleek it may be, but at 25% alcohol, I think I’ll have to pass. 
The good thing about Nuvo? One, despite my kvetching about its taste, it’s a pretty good name – a phonetic spelling of the French word nouveau, so its appearance is really distinctive. And two? It’s a liqueur, so it should stay drinkable for a while after opening, which will enable me to use this with guests as a cocktail conversation piece, if you will. Not bad for an investment of $10! 
(And for Nuvo’s website’s copywriters? Check out this invaluable resource so you don’t make me [sic] again: http://public.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/errors.html !)